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Meeting Analysis: Findings from Research and Practice.


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Meeting analysis, that is the study of meeting expenses, productivity, processes, and outcomes, is relevant to GSS practice and research for several reasons. Many reviews and surveys reveal that meetings dominate workers' and managers' time and yet are considered to be costly, unproductive and dissatisfying. Studies show that meetings are essential and that the number of meetings and their duration has been steadily increasing. Studies of managers and knowledge workers reveal that they spend between 25%-80% of their time in meetings, suggesting that meetings are an important part of one's working life. Estimates of meeting expenses range from costs of $30 million to over 100 million per year to losses between $54 million and 3.7 billion annually! Self estimates of meeting productivity by managers in many different functional areas range from 33%-47%.
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Meeting Analysis: Findings from Research and Practice
Nicholas C. Romano, Jr.
Assistant Professor of MIS
Business Administration Hall Suite 313
The University of Tulsa
600 South College Avenue
Tulsa, OK 74104-3189
918-631-3992 Voice
918-631-2164 Fax
Jay F. Nunamaker, Jr.
Regents and Soldwedel Professor of MIS, Communication & CS
Director Center for the Management of Information
McClelland Hall, Room 430GG
University of Arizona
1130 East Helen Street
Tucson, AZ 85721-0108
520-621-4105 Voice
520-621-3918 Fax
"Almost every time there is a genuinely important decision to
be made in an organization, a group is assigned to make it --
or at least to counsel and advise the individual who must
make it." Hackman [23]
Meeting analysis, that is the study of meeting expenses,
productivity, processes, and outcomes, is relevant to GSS
practice And research for several reasons. Many reviews and
surveys [1, 2, 3, 15, 21, 52, 53, 57, 75, 82] reveal that meetings
dominate workers’ and managers’ time and yet are considered
to be costly, unproductive and dissatisfying. Studies [13, 52,
53, 56, 57] show that meetings are essential and that the
number of meetings and their duration has been steadily
increasing. Studies of Managers and knowledge workers [1, 13,
21, 51, 52, 53, 68, 75, 79, 89, 90, 92] reveal that they spend
between 25%-80% of their time in meetings, suggesting that
meetings are an important part of one’s working life. Estimates
of meeting expenses [1, 13, 39, 53] range from costs of $30
million to over 100 million per year to losses between $54
million and 3.7 billion annually! Self estimates of meeting
productivity [15, 21, 53 , 75] by managers in many different
functional areas range from 33% - 47%.
Studies reveal that meetings are indeed costly and
unproductive, yet essential and increasing in number and
duration underscore the need for meeting productivity research.
Studying the purpose of group meetings and common meeting
problems provides insights into which types of group support
may improve meeting productivity. Finally, the increasing
trend toward telework [6, 17, 41, 58] justifies the need for
research into virtual meeting support. It is important to
understand how we meet and collaborate today before we can
begin to design effective new methods for the future. This
article reviews and summarizes in detail decades of “meeting
analysis” research which reveal that meetings are costly and
unproductive on the one hand, yet essential and increasing in
number and duration on the other. Then it defines meetings and
reviews literature on typical meetings, why groups meet,
purposes for holding meetings, monetary and temporal meeting
expenses, size and location of meetings, meeting problems,
addition of technology to meetings, and finally the rise of
telework and virtual meetings.
Meeting: A Definition
“A meeting is a gathering where people speak up, say
nothing, and then all disagree.” Kayser [38]
To explore complex human interactions such as meetings one
needs to understand them and their components in
detail. There is value in defining meetings as the definition
reveals the variety of purposes they serve and the specific
techniques required for each to bring about the greatest return
on investment [2]. Webster [96] defines a meeting as “an act
or process of coming together” that may be “a chance or a
planned encounter.” This definition incorporates the concepts
formality level and joint process or action; however it is
somewhat imprecise and inexplicit. Goffman [19] is more
explicit in defining a meeting as that which “occurs when
people effectively agree to sustain for a time a single focus of
cognitive and visual attention.” Hildreth [30] adds the
concept of a shared goal to define a meeting as a
communication encounter between … persons for a common
purpose.” Nunamaker et. al. [61] incorporate the concepts of
physical and temporal dispersion and define a meeting as “any
activity where people come together, whether at the same
place at the same time, or in different places at different
The definition of meeting in this research combines elements of
all those found in the literature: “a focused interaction of
cognitive attention, planned or chance, where people agree to
come together for a common purpose, whether at the same
time and the same place, or at different times in different
places. This definition includes several important dimensions
of meetings: focused interactions; groups of people; a common
purpose; level of formality; and temporal and physical
dispersion. Each of these dimensions may affect the meeting
itself and the support required to improve group productivity.
Our definition includes formal board meetings, casual hallway
conversations, telephone calls and internet-enabled interactions
through tools such as Net-meeting and discussion groups. Our
concept of a meeting involves people sharing data,
information, knowledge and wisdom to garner their collective
intelligence and bring it to bear to solve a problem or achieve a
goal together.
Typical Meetings
“A meeting is an interaction where the unwilling, selected
from the uninformed, led by the unsuitable, to discuss the
unnecessary, are required to write a report about the
unimportant.” Kayser [38]
While each meeting is a unique event, some studies attempt to
define a typical or average meeting. The 3M Meeting
Effectiveness Study (3M Study) developed a profile for the
typical meeting in Corporate America based on a survey of
over 900 meetings (See Figure 1.)
Figure 1.
Profile of the Typical Meeting in Corporate America [52]
The typical meeting in this study has the following
(Percentages based on 903 meetings surveyed, MF = Most
frequently reported value)
Staff Meeting (45%)
Held in Company Conference Room (74%)
Starting at 11:00 AM (MF)
Lasts 1 hour and 30 minutes (MF)
Involves 9 people (2 managers, 4 coworkers, 2 subordinates, & 1
outsider) (MF)
Two hours prior warning (MF)
No advance written agenda (63%)
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Somewhat or very informal (76%)
Most or all present actively participate (72%)
Uses handouts (47%)
Completely covers agenda only one-half of the time (53%)
Eleven percent of the time is spent discussing irrelevant issues.
Kayser [38, 39] developed two typical meeting profiles based
on related 1989 and 1995 studies of Xerox’s 24,000 person
Manufacturing and Development group. These two profiles
differed only in terms of average cost (See Figure 2.)
Figure 2. Average Meeting for Xerox Manufacturing and
Development Group [38, 39]
Average Meeting Composition:
Seven People
Organizationally equivalent to
Four Senior Engineers
Two Project Managers
One Second-Level Manager
Average Length:
60 Minutes
Average Cost: (Accounting for fully loaded Salaries)
1989: $337.00
1995: $427.00
While defining the “average” or “typical” meeting provides
some insight, additional analysis may provide deeper
understanding. The following sections will explore meetings in
more depth and review studies from the literature.
Why Do Groups Work Together in Meetings?
"We meet because people holding different jobs have to
cooperate to get a specific task done. We meet because the
knowledge and experience needed in a specific situation are
not available in one head, but have to be pieced together out
of the knowledge and experience of several people."
Peter Drucker [14]
“A Meeting is indispensable when you don’t want to get
anything done.” Thomas Kayser [38]
Belief in the adage "two heads are better than one" may be
found in the widespread employ of meetings in many societies;
for example committees, boards, councils, and the use of juries
within many legal systems [31, 77]. Research shows that group
performance may often exceed individual performance.
Perhaps the best known evidence comes from Hall’s [24]
research with the “Lost on the Moon” problem. Hall found
that “When a group’s final decision is compared to the
independent points of view that the members held before
entering the group, the group’s effort is almost always an
improvement over its average individual resource, and often it
is better than even the best individual contribution.
Hill [31] analyzed experimental comparisons of groups and
individuals on four dimensions: task, process, individual
differences, and methodology. The overall results of the
review and analysis showed that "group performance was
generally qualitatively and quantitatively superior to the
performance of the average individual." [31] Workers express
the desire to work together in groups. Hall [25] found in a
three-year survey of 10,277 U.S. workers from all levels of
employment that 97% reported they need conditions that
encourage collaboration to do their best work.
Meeting Purposes
“A meeting is a place where you keep the minutes and
throw away the hours. Thomas Kayser [38]
Meetings bring together a number of people that share a
definite purpose and value stems from that definite purpose [2].
The literature shows that groups meet for many different
reasons. Figure 3 provides some examples.
Figure 3 Examples from the Literature of
Why Groups Meet [53, 56, 61]
Make Decisions Avoid Decisions
Socialize Build Trust
Review Share Visions
Synergy Build Consensus
Solve Problems Surface Perspectives
Share work Build Teams
Long Range Planning Handling Emergencies
Education Training
Information Exchange Information Exchange
Sales Reorganization
Table 1 shows meeting purposes by percentage from the 3M
Study [52]. Almost two thirds (66%) of the meetings involved
complex group processes: reconcile conflict (29%); reach a
group judgment or decision (26%); solve a problem (11%).
Table 1. Meeting Purposes by Percentage [52]
% Meeting Purpose
29 Reconcile conflict
26 Reach a group judgment or decision
11 Solve a problem
11 Ensure that everyone understands
5 Facilitate staff communication
4 Gain support for a program
4 Explore new ideas and concepts
2 Accept reports
2 Demonstrate a project or system
(Percentages based on 903 Meetings)
Much literature (i.e. [5, 26, 43, 71, 97]) identifies numerous
meeting types. Figure 4 and Table 2 show some examples
based on surveys [2, 52], to determine the goals and
procedures of the meeting.
Figure 4 Six Different Meeting Types: [2]
Staff Meetings
Information Meetings
Fact Finding Meetings
Problem-Solving and Decision Making Meetings
Committee Meetings
Major Sales Meetings
Table 2 Types of Meetings in Corporate America by
Percentage [52]
% Meeting Type
45% Staff
22% Task Force
21% Information Sharing
5% Brainstorming
2% Ceremonial
5% Other
(Percentages based on 903 Meetings)
Meeting Expenses: Time and Money
“Time and Money, money and time, with respect to meetings
they intertwine. And, when all the costs are added up, it
blows your mind.” Thomas Kayser [39]
There is no such thing as a free meeting [38]. According to
Kayser, when one attends a meeting their actions send a clear
message: “This meeting is so important that I am willing to set
aside everything else that I could be doing to join with the
other attendees” [38]. This section is not intended to mislead
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the reader nor to overwhelm them with statistics, but rather to
emphasize the exceedingly high costs associated with meetings.
Time Spent Meeting
“Ask any group of managers in any country in the world to
list their three most time-consuming activities. Invariably,
‘meetings’ will appear among the three. I have asked this
question of more than 200 groups, and in every case but
three, more than three quarters of each group indicated that
half their time spent in meetings is wasted” McKenzie [48]
Meeting time studies have gone on since the 1960s, when
Tillman’s [87] early benchmark study found on average
executives spent three and one-half (3 ½) hours weekly in
planned meetings and more time in informal meetings. 1970’s
surveys show increases in numbers of meetings [53]. Rice [75]
found that of 600, the average participated in six to seven
meetings weekly, or almost twice as many as Tillman [87]
found, and that one-half reported they attended more meetings
than in the past. Mintzberg’s [51] study of six CEOs over a
five week period suggests managers spend up to 70% of their
time in meetings (60% scheduled 10% unscheduled (see Table
3,) and on average attend eight meetings per day. Van de Ven
[92] found that program managers spent as much as 80% of
their time in meetings. Tubbs [90] reports that in a 1978 survey
the average executive at a large Insurance company spent
approximately 700 hours annually or almost two out of five
days in meetings. Many middle managers reported spending as
many as three or four full days a week in meetings and some
reported spending eight straight hours in one meeting [53].
These 1970’s studies reveal a general trend toward business
professionals at all levels in small and large companies
spending increasing amounts of time in meetings [53].
Table 3 Percentage Distribution of
Hours by Managerial Activity [51]
Managerial Activity % Hours
Scheduled Meetings 59%
Desk Work 22%
Unscheduled Meetings 10%
Telephone Calls 6%
Tours 3%
Studies in the 1980’s also show increases in numbers of
meetings. Mosvick [54, 55] conducted two related studies of
950 managers and technical professionals in large-scale
technology-intensive industries ranging from junior to senior
management in both the U.S. and abroad over a five year
period. Major findings were "a notable shift toward an
increase in the number and length of meetings with an
increasingly high level of dissatisfaction with meetings" (See
Table 4) [53].
Professionals in the first survey [54] report attending seven
weekly meetings with three or more participants, six at work
and one after-hours, accounting for nearly six hours [54] (See
table 4 Survey I). Respondents in the second survey report an
increase of 2.5 meetings to a weekly average of 9.5, 8.5 at work
and one after-hours, which consumed nearly 25% (or 10 hours)
of their work week [55] (See table 2.4 Survey II). This
translates into a 55% increase in total meeting hours. Results
also indicate a slight increase in meeting length [55] (See table
4 Survey II.) In a more detailed value analysis of all managers
and technical professionals at one location within one major
company, Mosvick and Nelson [53, 55] found that 7000
managers at all levels spend on average 8.4 hours per week in
meetings (See Table 5.)
Table 4 Average Number and Length of Reported Meetings
Each Week [53, 54, 55]
Survey I
Survey II
Types of Meetings # Length
# Length
Staff 1.5 57 2.0 62 9%
Policy 0.7 48 1.0 56 17%
Problem Solving 2.3 50 3.5 54 8%
Interdepartmental 1.5 60 2.1 61 2%
Total on the job 6.0 5.4 Hr. 8.6 8.3 Hr 54%
After hours or Business
0.8 59 1.2 67 14%
Total Meetings 6.8 6.2 Hr. 9.8 9.6 Hr 55%
Table 5. Time Spent in Meetings per Week in a High-
Technology Corporation by Management Level [53, 55]
Level # Employees Hours
Senior 1000 9.7
Middle 2000 9.0
Junior 4000 7.8
Mean 7000 8.4
Table 6 presents meeting lengths reported in the 3M Study
[52]. The range was from five minutes (1%) to 11 hours (1%)
and the median one hour and 30 minutes. Over one-half (51%)
of the more than 900 respondents reported that meetings were
30 minutes to one and one-half hours in length. [52].
Table 6. Reported Length of Actual Meetings in Corporate
America [52]
Length %
0-30 min. 0.9%
31-61 min. 26.0%
1-1.5 hrs. 25.0%
1.5-2 hrs. 16.0%
2-4 hrs. 13.0%
> 4 hrs. 10.0%
(Percentages based on 903 Meetings)
Panko [67] found in a survey of 22 executive MBA students
with full time managerial or professional positions that most
meetings are brief. Table 7 shows that by percent of time
almost three-quarters (73%) of the 436 reported oral
communication events were 30 minutes or less in length, while
only three percent (3%) lasted longer than 2 hours. The table
also shows that by percent of events brief meetings of 15
minutes or less account for only 12% of face-to-face meeting
time, while the longest meetings of two or more hours account
for one-half of the time.
The 3M Study [52] found that almost one-third of the
respondents (31%) spend one or more hours attending
meetings with three or more people daily, while another third
spends fifteen minutes or less attending meetings (See Table
2.8) [52].
Table 7. Reported Length of Oral Communication [69]
Length % Events % Time
5 min. 28% 3%
10 min. 12% 3%
15 min. 14% 6%
30 min. 19% 15%
45 min. 6% 8%
1 hr. 9% 18%
2 hrs. 9% 29%
> 2 hrs. 3% 21%
(Percentages based on 436 Oral Communication Events)
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Table 8. Amount of Time Spent in Meetings Daily [52]
Length %
0-15 min. 35%
15-30 min. 14%
30-60 min. 21%
1-2 hrs. 13%
2-4 hrs. 11%
> 4 hrs. 7%
(Percentages based on 903 Meetings)
Several Survey’s by Tropman [89] showed that more than 50%
of an active managers official work-time is spent in meetings.
A survey of 2000 business leaders by Harrison-Hofstra showed
that they spend 25-70% of their day in meetings [10, 56, 79].
A survey of 1000 [21] executives found that seven out of ten
(71.9%) spend more time in meetings than they did five years
prior and that 87% spend at least the same amount of time in
meetings as they did five years earlier (see Table 9.) The same
survey found that almost one-half (49.3%) expect to spend
even more time in meetings and that almost 85% expect to
spend at least as much time in meetings five years in the future
[21] See Table (10.)
Table 9. Time Spent in Meetings
Compared to Five Years Earlier [21]
Time Spent % of Respondents
More 71.9%
Same 14.8%
Less 10.9%
No Opinion 3.2%
(Percentages based on 1000 executives)
Table 10. Expected Time Spent in Meetings
Five Years in the Future [21]
Expected Time % of Respondents
More 49.3%
Same 35.1%
Less 12.5%
No Opinion 3.1%
(Percentages based on 1000 executives)
The 3M Study [52] found that 25-80% of a typical managers
time is spent in meetings. Doyle [13] found that typical middle
managers spend around 35% of their work week in meetings
and top mangers may spend as much as 50% of their time in
meetings. Mosvick and Nelson [53] found that the average
technical professional or manager spends almost one-fourth
(1/4) of their work week in meetings, top and middle managers
may spend as much as two full days a week in meetings, and
executive managers may spend four days a week in meetings.
Panko [67] found that as much as 20% of a manager’s workday
is spent in conference room meetings. In another study Panko
[68] found that managers spend approximately 20% of their
work day in five-person or larger formal meetings and as much
as 85% of their time communicating. The 1999 Pitney Bowes
Survey of 800 Knowledge Workers Found that the number and
format of communucation messages that knowledge workers
receive is increasing (See Table 11.)
Table 11. Pitney Bowes Survey of Knowledge workers
Message Format 1999 1998 1984*
Telephone Calls 52 20
E-mails 36 4
Voicemails 23 0
S-Mails 18 10
Interoffice Memos 18 11
Faxes 14 0
Post-its 13 5
Message Slips 9 4
Pager Messages 8 0
Cell Calls 4 0
Express Mail 7 0
Total 202 190 54
If one takes a very conservative estimate of four hours of
meetings per week the average person would spend over 9,000
hours or 365 days in meeting during their lifetime. [13]
Mosvick and Nelson [53] estimate that many companies are
losing the "equivalent of 30 man-days and 240 man-hours a
year for every person who participates in business
conferences," due to poor meeting preparation, ad hoc
scheduling, and lack of training in meeting management. The
3M Meeting Management Team [1] conservatively estimates
that middle managers spend 4.4 million hours in meetings
2.4.2 Number of Meetings
“There are meetings, and meetings about meetings, and
meetings to plan reports, and meetings to review the status of
reports.And what these meetings are about is people just
trying to figure out what they are doing.”Paul Strassmann
Several studies [13, 52, 53, 57] show that meeting frequency is
growing. In 1988, United States Fortune 500 companies are
estimated to have held between eleven and fifteen million
formal meetings daily and between “three and four billion“
meetings yearly [13, 52]. Results of the 1998 Meeting
Professionals International/American Society of Association
Executives (MPI/ASAE) Seventh Annual Meetings Outlook
Survey [57] indicate that the need for meetings will increase in
the future. Twenty-four percent (24%) of respondents expect to
hold more meetings in 1998. Eighteen percent (18%) expect to
hold more regional meetings, while eighty-two percent plan to
hold at least the same number. Twenty-one (21%) percent
expect to hold more national meetings. Fourteen percent (14%)
expect to hold more international meetings. Only fifteen
percent (15%) predict they will hold shorter meetings [57].
2.4.3 Economic Costs of Meetings
“Unproductive meeting time translates
into a $37 billion annual waste.”
Harrison-Hofstra Survey [79]
Research shows that although figures vary, most organizations
spend between seven and fifteen percent (7-15%) of their
personnel budget on meetings [13, 52.] One California
company with a 350 million dollar personnel budget estimates
that they spend $30 million annually on meetings [13].
Mosvick and Nelson performed a detailed value analysis of
7000 managers and technical professionals at one location
within a major company that revealed an over $54 million
annual loss due to ineffectively planned and conducted
meetings [53, 55] (see Table 2.12)
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Table 2.11. Summary of Time Spent in Meetings Literature
Yr. Study Population #/Units/Time Reference
1960 Executives Ave 3 ½ hrs/week in planned meetings [87]
1973 600 Executives 6-7 meetings/week [75]
1973 ½ of 600 Executives Report more meetings than ever [75]
1973 6 CEOs Up to 70% of time in meetings 60% scheduled,
10% unscheduled
1973 6 CEOs On average attend 8 meetings per day [51]
1973 Program managers Up to 80% of time in meetings [92]
1978 Ave. Executive 700 hrs/yr or 2 days/week in meetings [90]
1982 Managers 9000 hrs or 365days/Lifetime in meetings [13]
1982 Middle managers 35%/work week in meetings [13]
1982 Middle managers 50%/work week in meetings [13]
1982 Ave. mgr. or tech prof. 6 hrs/week in meetings [54]
1985 Managers >50%/ worktime in meetings [89]
1986 Ave. mgr. or tech prof. ~10 hrs/week in meetings [55]
1987 Ave. mgr. or tech prof. up to 50%/time in meetings [53]
1987 7000 managers Ave. 8.4 hrs/week in meetings [53]
1987 Ave. mgr. or tech prof. ~ ¼/work week in meetings [53]
1987 Middle managers Up to 4 full days/week in meetings [53]
1987 Middle managers 8 straight hrs in one meeting [53]
1989 2000 business leaders 25-70%/day in meetings [79]
1989 1000 Executives 71.9% spend more time meeting than 5 yrs ago [21]
1989 1000 Executives 49.3% expect to spend more time in meetings
five years from now
1989 Typical Managers 25-80%/time in meetings [52]]
1989 1/3 of 903 managers 1 or more hrs/day in 3 or larger meetings [52]]
1989 1/3 of 903 managers 15 min./day or less in meetings [52]]
1994 Middle Managers 4.4 Million hours/year [1]
1994 Managers 85%/time Communicating [68]
1994 Managers 25%/workday in conference room meetings [68]
Table 2.12. Annual Cost of Meetings and Estimated Loss in
a High-Technology Corporation by Management Level
[53, 55]
Level #Emps Hour
Burden Rate
Cost of time in
Senior 1000 9.7 $50 $485,000
2000 9.0 $40 $720,000
Junior 4000 7.8 $30 $936,000
Weekly Cost of Meetings $2,141,000
Annual Cost of Meetings
($2,141,000 x 48 Weeks)
Estimated Meeting Efficiency
(47% of Annual Cost)
Loss Due to Ineffective Meetings $54, 468,000
(Meeting hours and burden rate drawn from one company in the 1986
Mosvick Study)
Mosvick and Nelson conducted a similar cost analysis of a
larger population of managers and technical professionals
working for a larger multinational firm. This second analysis,
using actual company reports of time spent in meetings,
estimates of meetings , and the company’s burden rates,
yielded a conservative estimate of losses in group productivity
of $71 million per year [53, 64].
The 3M Meeting Management Team [1] conservatively
estimates that meetings involving middle managers within 3M
corporation cost the company $78.8 million annually. Kayser
[38, 39] found that the average cost of a one hour meeting,
accounting for fully loaded salaries, within Xerox’s 24,000
person Manufacturing and Development group rose from
$337.00 in 1989 to $427.00 in 1995. When multiplied by a
conservative estimate of 4,500 meetings per week and 52
weeks per year the annualized cost increase was $22.3 million
(28.5%) from $78.9 million in 1989 to $100.4 million in 1995.
Table 2.13. Summary of Economic Costs/Losses of Meeting
Yr. Study Population $ Cite
CA corp. $350 m/yr.
personnel budget
30 Million
7000+ mgrs. in hi tech
54 Million
7000+ managers in high
tech firm
71 Million
24,000 Man. & Dev.
Group in Xerox
78.9 Million (cost) [38]
3M middle managers 78.8
24,000 Man. & Dev.
Group in Xerox
100.4 Million
3000 Business Leaders $37 Billion/Year
[39] Determining the Direct Cost of Meetings
The 3M Meeting management institute suggests that the
following factors should come into play when calculating the
cost of a meeting:
Hourly wages and/or salaries ( including benefits ) for all
Wages and salaries for those who prepare the meeting
(including attendees, secretaries, set up crew, etc.)
Cost of materials used for the meeting (handouts, visuals,
Overhead costs for the facilities for length of meeting
Cost of speaker or facilitator, if applicable
Cost of travel, lodging, meals, etc. if meeting is held out
of office
Cost of any additional miscellaneous expenses incurred
due to holding the meeting
They suggest that these factors are often difficult to measure,
and therefore developed a formula that estimates meeting costs
at twice the salary costs for all attendees. Table 2.14 shows an
example of how costly meetings may be with only a few
participants in attendance.
Table 2.14 Estimated Hourly Meeting Costs [1]
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Hourly Cost of Meeting in $
$75,000 150 300 450 600 750 150
$62,500 125 250 375 500 625 125
$50,000 100 200 300 400 500 100
$37,500 75 150 225 300 375 750
$25,000 50 100 150 200 250 500
$12,500 25 50 75 100 125 250
2 4 6 8 10 20
Number of Attendees Indirect Meeting Costs
“Many meetings create a ripple effect. A meeting of fifteen
people can affect how three hundred people work -- or don’t
work – for the rest of the day or week or even permanently.
Michael Doyle and Peter Strauss [13]
Unproductive meetings may cost organizations more than
wasted dollars; time may be lost, morale may decline, and
productivity may be reduced [1]. There are a number of hidden
costs associated with unsuccessful meetings, for example time
wasted cooling off due to frustration and anger and griping to
others. Doyle and Strauss [13] estimate that the time lost after
ineffective meetings may cost $800,000 per 1000 employees.
Doyle and Strauss [13] call this the “Meeting Recovery
Syndrome.” While direct meeting costs, such as time and
money, are obvious, there is also the cost of ‘lost
opportunities’ to work on other more productive tasks [38].
2.5 Meeting Size and Composition
“The best meeting is a group of three with one person sick
and another out of town.” Kayser [39]
2.5.1 Having the Right People Attend Meetings
When meetings are required one must decide who it is
appropriate to invite [13, 39]. Oppenheim [66] found that not
having the “right” people is one of the leading causes of
unproductive meetings. More than a third (34%) of 3M Study
[52] participants report only a few (4%) or some (30%)
relevant people attended meetings (See Table 2.15.) Several
researchers offer guidelines for who to invite to meetings (See
Table 2.16 for a summary.)
Table 2.15. Relevance of People Attending Meetings [52]
Statement %
No Relevant People 0%
A Few Relevant People 4%
Some Relevant People 30%
All Relevant People 66%
(Based on 903 Meetings)
Table 2.16. Summary of Guidelines for
Who to Invite to Meetings
Guideline References
Those with the relevant expertise [2, 13, 39]
Those who must be in on this decision [2, 13, 39]
Those that are crucial to the implementation [13]
Those most affected by the problem being addressed or
their representative
[1, 13, 39]
Those with direct responsibility and authority over the
topic of discussion
[1, 2, 39,
Those responsible to resolve or implement decisions [1, 2, 39,
Those with enough knowledge to contribute
Those with require information unavailable elsewhere [2, 53]
2.5.2 Number of People Attending Meetings
“Just why an executive already having four subordinates
should hesitate before adding a fifth member to the group
which he controls directly, becomes clear if it is realized that
the addition not only brings twenty new relationships with
him, but adds nine more relationships to each of his
The total is raised from 44 to 100 possible relationships for
the unit, an increase in complexity of 127 percent in return
for a 20 percent increase in working capacity.”
V. A. Graicunas [2] Early Studies of Group Size and Performance
Questions about the effects of group size on performance have
been of interest to researchers since the first experimental
studies of groups in the late 1890s and early 1900s [28, 80, 86,
88]. Taylor [86] observed that steel workers would slow their
individual pace to match that of a group norm when working
with others. James [36] found that larger groups are less stable
than smaller groups. Several studies [4, 8, 9, 18] found that
larger groups inhibit individual participation and have more
difficulties in communication than smaller groups. Both Gibb
[18] and Rice [74] found that larger groups create more stress
than smaller ones. Two studies [83, 95] found larger groups
were more successful than smaller groups with certain tasks
due to the greater number of skills present; however four
studies [27, 45, 83, 85] found that large groups are less
efficient or productive at many other tasks. Slater [81] found
that members of groups of six or smaller never felt their group
was too large and that members of groups of four or larger
never felt their group was too small. Both Bales [5] and Slater
[81] found that five appears to be the optimum group size.
Table 2.17. Summary of Early Meeting Size Studies
Yr. Finding Cite
1903 Slowed pace when other present to match
group norm
Larger groups more successful with certain
tasks due to additional resources
[83, 95]
Larger groups inhibit individual participation
and have more communication difficulties than
smaller ones
[4, 8, 9,
1951 Larger groups less stable than smaller ones [36]
1951 Larger groups create more stress than smaller
[18, 74]
Large groups are less efficient and productive
than small groups at many tasks
[27, 45,
83, 85]
Five appears to be the optimum group size [81]
1958 Members of groups of 6 or less never felt group
was too large
1958 Members of groups of 4+ never felt group was
too small
[81] Meeting Size Guidelines
Meeting literature suggests both that meetings should be as
small as possible [2, 39, 53] and that they should have as
many points of view as possible to avoid groupthink [2, 13,
33]. Mosvick and Nelson [53] suggest that studies have shown
the ideal size to be an uneven number, to prevent deadlocks, of
five to seven members. They suggest that groups smaller than
five lack the broad mix of expertise required to efficiently
handle tasks. They also suggest that groups of more than seven
have complicated group dynamics: a few members dominate
and participation becomes unequal; factions may form; and
people may have less commitment to tasks. Doyle and Strauss
[13] suggest that the larger the group the more structure
meetings require.
Doyle and Strauss [13] suggest guidelines for appropriate
meeting sizes for different meeting purposes based on four
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arbitrary divisions (2-7, 7-15, 15-30, and above 30) around the
boundaries of which they believe meeting dynamics seem to
change. Each of these is discussed in the following sections. Meetings of Two to Seven Participants
Many meetings have two to seven (2-7) participants,
specifically staff meetings of managers and subordinates [13].
The question of how many to invite to a staff meeting is rarely
raised, because the number is often assumed to be determined
by the number of people at the next hierarchical level [13].
Doyle and Strauss [13] suggest that this size assumption may
not always be valid and that for certain issues one may want
and need to include other organizational members. They
present several potential advantages of such meetings: groups
assemble quickly; sessions are informal and flexible; any
meeting type may be used; detailed technical and logistical
problems may be efficiently addressed; and finally it is
relatively easy to manage the group dynamics. They suggest
two main disadvantages: first, only a few viewpoints are
represented, which may lead to decisions of lower quality and
impact than might be achieved with larger groups; and second,
the small group may not have the critical mass needed to
achieve the best creative problem-solving [13]. Meetings of Seven to Fifteen Participants
Doyle and Strauss [13] suggest that this size is ideal for
decision-making and problem-solving meetings. They suggest
several advantages: all participants may easily be involved;
everyone’s thoughts may be communicated; it is small enough
to be informal and spontaneous and also large enough to allow
for a facilitator and a scribe; and it seems to be the size which
best creates synergy. They point out two disadvantages: first,
complexity is such that clear structure is required; and second
that a recorder and facilitator are both required, but there are
high costs in terms of time to record everything. Meetings of Fifteen to Thirty Participants
Doyle and Strauss [13] suggest that “most meetings should not
have more than fifteen participants,” because the group
dynamics become very complex and often professional
facilitation is required. They suggest that the disadvantages
include the need to impose rules of order, increased formality
over smaller meetings, decreased spontaneity, and the need for
facilitation to achieve constructive participation. Meetings of Thirty or More Participants
Doyle and Strauss [13] suggest that groups of thirty or more
work well for lectures, panel discussions, formal debates, and
voting, but much beyond thirty participation requires a clear set
of rules such as parliamentary procedure. They also suggest
that large numbers can be involved in the planning process.
The 3M Meeting Management Team [1] also suggest that the
number of participants should vary according to meeting type
(See Table 2.18.)
Table 2.18. Optimal Meeting Sizes [1]
Meeting Type Max. Parts. Comments
Problem Solving 5 Recommend 5 or fewer
Decision Making 5 Recommend 5 or fewer
Problem Identification 10 More may bog down the
Training Seminar 15 Especially for hands-on
Informational 30 To promote interaction
Review or Presentation 30 To promote interaction
Motivational No Limit The more the better Meeting Size and Composition Surveys
Several studies analyzed meeting size and three of those also
looked at meeting composition: Mintzberg’s [51] executive
observations; the Harrison-Hofstra Study [21]; the 3M Study
[52] Kayser’s two Xerox Surveys [38, 39]; and Panko’s [69]
Executive MBA Survey. Average Meeting Size and Composition
Five studies [21, 38, 39, 52, 69] report an “average” meeting
size, however the one common finding is that there is no
typical” meeting size. 70% of the respondents in the Harrison-
Hofstra Study [21] reported that the typical meeting size was
fifteen participants or less. The 3M Study [52] found that the
median number of meeting attendees is nine and consists of
two managers, four coworkers, two subordinates, and one
outsider. The Two Xerox Surveys [38, 39] found the average
meeting involves seven participants and is composed of
four senior engineers, two project managers, and one second-
level manager. Panko [69] argues that dyads are the dominant
meeting size, however this survey defined meetings as any oral
Table 2.19. Summary of Average Meeting Size
Yr. Study Population Finding Cite
1000 Executives Typical size 15 or
903 Managers Median size is 9 [52]
Xerox 24,000 group Average meeting
involves 7
Xerox 24,000 group Average meeting
involves 7
22 Executive MBA –
Groups of two
[69] Meeting Sizes Across Studies
Mintzberg [51] found that for twenty-two CEOs observed,
43% of scheduled meetings involved three or more
participants, while 57% involved dyads. Panko’s Executive
MBA Survey [69] found that most oral communication events
were dyadic, however it should be noted that the design of the
survey excluded data on many larger meetings (see Table
2.20.) Sixty-five percent (65%) of meeting events were dyadic
and thirty percent (30%) had from three to ten participants.
Panko [69] also suggests that meetings with four to seven
participants, which account for thirteen percent (13%), are
fairly common. In total meetings of ten participants or less
accounted for ninety percent (90%) of all oral communication
events [69].
Table 2.20.
Oral Communication Episode Size by Percent [69]
Size %
2 65%
3 12%
4 4%
5 2%
6 4%
7 3%
8 1%
9 2%
10 1%
>10 5%
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(Based on 436 Oral Communication Episodes)
Table 2.21 presents data from the 3M study on the number of
participants in meetings. Twenty percent (20%) of the meetings
had fewer than six (6) participants, almost one-fourth (1/4) had
sixteen (16) or more participants, forty-one percent (41%) had
between six and ten (6-10) participants, and The median
number of participants was nine (9) [52].
Table 2.21. Meeting Size by Percentage [52]
Size % #
1-5 20% 180
6-10 41% 361
11-15 17% 152
16-25 9% 84
26-90 10% 87
> 90 3% 24
(Based on 903 Meetings)
Table 2.22. Summary of Meeting Size
Yr. Study Population Finding
22 CEOs of Large
43% of meetings had 3 or
more participants
1000 Executives 70% said typical size was
15 or fewer
903 Managers 41% of meetings had
between 6 and 10
903 Managers 78% of meetings had 15
or fewer participants
22 Executive MBAs 65% oral communication
events dyads
2.6 Meeting Location
people meet is a crucial as why and when. The
choice of a meeting room has a significant impact on the
overall quality of the meeting. Among other things, a meeting
room can enhance or inhibit productivity, encourage or
discourage communication, promote or stifle creativity,
and make participants feel relaxed or tense.”
3M Meeting Management Team [1]
The literature discusses a number of different locations where
meetings take place within business organizations (see table
2.23.) The 3M Meeting Management Team [1] suggests that
great care be taken in selection and setup of a meeting
location, because it plays a very important role in meeting
Table 2.23 Meeting Locations [21, 52, 69]
Conference rooms (On-site/Off-site )
Restaurants/Company Cafeterias
Offices (Own/coworkers)
Breakout rooms
Respondents in the Harrison-Hofstra Survey [21] ranked
physical environment high in terms of importance; nearly
eighty-five percent (85%) said that it is important that meetings
are conducted in the proper physical environment.
Respondents said that off-site meetings are more effective than
on-site ones by a factor of ten to one [21]. The 3M Study [52]
found that almost two-thirds (74%) of meetings took place in
company conference rooms, while all other locations
individually accounted from between two and ten percent (2-
10%) (see Table 2.24.)
Table 2.24. Meeting Locations by Percentage [52]
Meeting Location %
Firm’s conference room 74%
This person’s office 3%
Coworker’s office 10%
Client’s conference room 2%
Outside this firm 5%
Other 6%
(Based on 903 Meetings)
Panko [69] looked at meeting location from two perspectives,
percentage of events and percentage of time. In terms of
events’, office meetings account for half (50%) of all meeting
events and conference room meetings up one quarter (25%). In
terms ofamount of time” the situation is reversed, such that
conference room meetings account for over half (54%) of all
face-to-face meeting time and office meetings. One interesting
finding is that hallway meetings were much less prevalent than
one might expect (see Table 2.25.) The difference in the results
of these two studies [52, 69] might be due to the fact that the
3M study did not consider dyads, while Panko’s study did.
Table 2.25. Meeting Location by Percentage Event &
Percentage Time [69]
Meeting Location % Event % Time
Conference room 26% 54%
Office 50% 28%
Restaurant 7% 8%
Hallway 4% 1%
Other 13% 9%
(Based on 446 oral communication episodes)
2.6 Group Work Problems
“Even in a highly controlled meeting, there is a lot … going
on – bonding, rituals, glances, innuendoes, and so forth.”
Terrence E. Deal
2.6.1 Meeting Productivity: Efficiency and Effectiveness
"One either meets or one works, One cannot do both at the
same time." [14]
Rice [75] found that of 600 CEOs surveyed one-third (1/3)felt
that meetings were not worth the time and of only marginal
value and seventy-three percent (73%) questioned meeting
effectiveness in terms of lack of planning, discussions on
irrelevant topics, or excessive meeting length. 3M Study
respondents reported that between eleven and twenty-five
percent (11-25%) of meeting time is spent on irrelevant issues
[52]. The Harrison-Hofstra Survey [21] found that overall
respondents concluded that one-third (33.4%) of time they
spend in meetings is unproductive and that twelve percent
(12%) of respondents felt that over fifty percent (50%) of the
time they spend in meetings is unproductive. A recent survey
of executives found that respondents felt twenty to thirty
percent (20-30%) of meetings were unnecessary [15].
Table 2.26. Summary of Meeting Productivity Studies
Yr Study
Findings Cite
600 CEOs 73% questioned meeting
effectiveness due to lack of
planning, irrelevant topics, &
excessive length
11-25% of time spent on
irrelevant issues
1/3 (33.4%) of meeting time is
12% felt over 50% of meeting
time is unproductive
Executives Majority concluded 20-30% of
meetings unneeded
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2.6.2 Attitudes Toward Meetings
“Decision makers find themselves faced with more and more
lengthy meetings required to discuss information-laden
issues, but they are starting to resist attending these meetings
” [35]
Executives surveyed by Tillman [87] in 1960 expressed
positive attitudes about committee work with between fifty-five
and eighty percent reporting they felt that committees promote
coordination, creativity, and informed decision making. In
contrast only eight percent wanted to eliminate committees if
given the chance. However, by the mid seventies there was a
growing dissatisfaction with meetings [53]. Both Rice [75]
and Goldhaber [20] found an overall negative attitude
regarding meetings. In the 3M Study [52] one third of meeting
participants complain they have little or no influence on the
outcome of meetings. A 1989 study of 200 corporate vice
presidents found that forty percent (40%) admitted to falling
asleep or dozing off during a meeting presentation and they
reported that they found more than forty-three (43%) percent of
business meetings “boring” [52]. A recent survey of executives
found that forty-three percent (43%) of them admitted dozing
off at least once during a meeting [15].
Table 2.27. Summary of Attitudes Towards Meetings
Yr. Study
Findings Cite
Executives 55-85% felt committees promote
coordination, creativity, &
informed decision making
Executives 8% would eliminate committees if
they could
600 CEOs 1/3 felt meetings not worth time
and of only marginal value
1/3 complain they have little or nor
influence over meeting outcomes
200 Corp.
40% admit falling asleep or dozing
off in meetings
200 Corp.
More than 43% of business
meetings were boring
Executives 43% admitted dozing off during a
2.6.2 Specific Meeting Problems
"Phenomenon of Collective Incompetence"
"Very wise individuals can still compose very foolish groups"
George Kieffer [40]
"Groups of individuals are far more likely to err than
individuals" T. B. Macaulay
"Anyone taken as an individual is tolerably sensible and
reasonable, but as a member of a crowd he at once becomes
a blockhead" Friedrich Schiller
"The collective intelligence of the group turns out to be less
than the sum of its members' IQs."
3M Meeting Management Team [1]
Researchers [52, 53, 64, 78 ] have explored many potential
problems that may impede progress when people work
together. In two related studies managers and professionals
were asked to list the two most personally bothersome
problems that take place in meetings. The 1,305 responses
were organized into specific categories; table 2.28 shows some
of the reported problems. [53]
Table 2.28 Reported Meeting Problems[53]
(N= 1305)
Rank Type of Problem #
1 Getting off the subject 20
2 No goals or agenda 19
3 Too lengthy 18
4 Poor or inadequate preparation 94
5 Inconclusive 88
6 Disorganized 86
7 Ineffective leadership/lack of control 38
8 Irrelevance of information discussed 37
9 Time wasted during meetings 37
10 Starting late 36
11 Not effective for making decisions 31
12 Interruptions from within and without 30
13 Individuals dominate/aggrandize discussion 29
14 Rambling, redundant, or digressive discussion 27
15 No published results or follow up actions 25
16 No pre-meeting orientation/cancelled or postponed
17 Meetings too large/too many people 13
18 Ineffective speakers/communication problems 13
19 Too much information presented 12
20 Poor attitudes or effort by participants 10
21 Lack of participation 8
22 Participants have no decision authority 8
Source: Data combined from [54, 55]
Nunamaker et. al. [61] reviewed the literature on group
processes and described process gains and losses. Table 2.29
lists some potential sources of process losses and processes
gains, but is by no means exhaustive.
Table 2.29. Group Process Gains and Losses [61]
Sources of Process Gains Sources of Process Losses
More information Air Time Fragmentation
Synergy Production Blocking
More Objective
Attenuation Blocking
Stimulation Concentration Blocking
Learning Attention blocking
Failure to Remember
Conformance apprehension
Evaluation apprehension
Free Riding
Cognitive Inertia
Information Overload
Coordination Problems
Incomplete Use of Information
Incomplete Task Analysis
The 3M Study [52] suggests several common reasons for
meeting failures and presents statistics from their study. These
are described in the following sections. Lack of Preparation Lack of Notification
The 3M Study [52] found that seven percent of
respondents reported they had no prior notification of
a meeting and eighteen percent reported that they had
less than one day's notice (See table 2.30)
Table 2.30 Amount of Meeting Notification [52]
Notice Percent
No notice 7%
0-1 hr. 4%
1 hr. - 1 day 14%
1 - 5 days 24%
5 - 7 days 18%
7 – 30 days 25%
> 30 days 5%
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The 3M Study [52] found that one-third (33%) of respondents
spent no time preparing for meetings, forty-four percent spent
one hour or less, and only twenty-five percent spent more than
one hour [52] (See Table 2.31).
Table 2.31. Amount of Time Spent
Preparing for Meetings [52]
Prep Time Percent
No notice 33%
1-60 min. 44%
1 hr. - 1 day 19%
1 - 5 days 4%
5 - 7 days 0%
7 - 30 days 2%
> 30 days 1% Perceived Level of Self-Preparation for Meetings
Although more than seventy-five percent of the respondents in
the 3M Study [52] report they spent one hour or less preparing
for a meeting, when asked how prepared they thought they are
personally, more than three-quarters (3/4) said they were
prepared (54%) or very prepared (25%) (See Table 2.32). Five
percent stated they were unprepared, while only one percent
very unprepared. This presents somewhat of a paradox and
may suggest that people either overestimate their level of
preparedness or underestimate the time needed to prepare for
Table 2.32 Perceived Level of Self-Preparation for Meetings
Preparation Level %
Very Prepared 25%
Prepared 54%
Somewhat Unprepared 15%
Unprepared 5%
Very Unprepared 1% Agenda Problems
Agendas are considered to be essential framing devices for
meetings and the lack of one suggests inadequate planning [52,
53]. The best predictor of the success of a meeting may be a
written agenda distributed in advance [1]. Although agendas
are considered important or even essential to the success of
meetings, meeting surveys presented in this section show that
they are often not used or not communicated prior to meetings. Lack of an Agenda
No goals or agenda was the second most commonly reported
meeting problem in Mosvick and Nelson’s [53] survey of 950
managers and professionals. In the Harrison-Hofstra [7, 79]
survey nearly one-half of the meetings did not have a written
agenda; however seventy-three percent of the respondents felt
that an agenda is "essential" for a productive meeting. The 3M
Study [52] found that almost one-third (32%) of respondents
reported that their meetings had no stated agenda. Less than
one-third (29%) have written agendas distributed prior to
meetings and another 17% have verbal agendas stated in
advance. 9% of the meetings have written agendas distributed
at the start of the meeting (See Table 2.33).
Table 2.33 How a Meeting Agenda is communicated [52]
Agenda Communicated Percent
No Stated Agenda 32%
Written Distributed Before 29%
Written Distributed at start 8%
Verbal to all before 17%
Verbal to some before 2%
Verbal to some before, not me 4%
Other 1% Hidden Agendas
The 3M Study [52] found that even when a written agenda is
distributed before a meeting there may still be underlying
issues present which are not stated on the agenda. Nearly two-
thirds (63%) of respondents indicated they felt underlying
issues were present in meetings. Nearly one-third (30%)
reported the presence of underlying issues to a small extent;
twenty-one percent reported their presence to some extent; and
twelve percent reported their presence to a great extent (See
Table 2.34).
Table 2.34. Presence of Underlying Issues Outside the
Official Agenda [52]
Underlying Issues Percent
Not Present at All 38%
Present to a Small Extent 30%
Present to Some Extent 21%
Present to a Great Extent 12% Lack of Control
The Harrison-Hofstra Study found that participants clearly
understand what they are supposed to do in only one out of
four meetings [79]. The 3M Study [52 ] and Mosvick and
Nelson [53] report that almost fifty percent of the time spent in
meetings is wasted due to information loss, information
distortion, sub-optimal decision making, and meeting
mismanagement. The Harrison-Hofstra Survey found that
management experience does not appreciably improve the
ability to hold productive meetings [79]. Chairmen, CEOs and
Presidents with an average of twenty years of meeting
experience report that twenty-eight percent of time they spend
in meetings in nonproductive, while middle managers report
that thirty-five percent of their meeting time is nonproductive
[79]. Table 2.35 shows reported percentages of nonproductive
meeting time by managerial function.
Table 2.35. Percentage of Nonproductive Meeting Time by
Managerial Function [21, 79]
% Unproductive
General Management 29.7
Human Resources 31.9
Sales/Marketing 33.6
Manufacturing 34.9
Finance 38.7
Overall Average 33.4
2.7 Why Add technology to meetings?
There are several reasons why adding technology to meetings
may improve productivity. First, research shows that meetings
dominate most workers time. Second, workers anticipate
technological changes in meetings. Third, a variety of
augmented meeting support (AMS) technologies [49, 50] exist
that may improve productivity including 3-Dimensional multi-
imaging [42], Video teleconferencing [76], television/film,
both technology and actual content [73] and automated group
support systems [59, 82]. Finally, technological innovations
have been shown to improve productivity in both lab and field
Previous sections of this article present data from meeting
surveys and use of time studies that show that meetings
increasingly dominate knowledge work. Panko and Kinney
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[69] argue that given the amount of time knowledge workers
spend in meetings attention is justified in the area of
technology support for meetings. The 1998 MPI/ASAE Survey
found that at fifty-two percent (52%) technology is the most
significant anticipated area of change within meetings [44, 57].
Substantial improvements in meeting productivity through IT
have been demonstrated through research at Claremont
University, Georgia Institute of Technology, London School of
Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University
of Georgia, University of Indiana, University of Arizona,
University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, New Jersey
Institute of Technology, and many other institutions [12, 16,
32, 60, 65, 70, 91, 94]. Additionally several major
corporations have invested significantly in GSS technology
including American Airlines, American Express, Boeing,
Dupont, EDS, The Internal Revenue Service, IBM, and Procter
and Gamble [11, 22, 34, 37, 46, 47, 62, 65, 72, 93]. Smith
[82] points out that use of GSS technology at IBM resulted in a
fifty-six percent (56%) savings in the number of man-hours.
2.8 Telework, Telecommuting and Virtual Meetings
“Teleworking: ANY form of substitution of information
technologies (such as telecommunications and computers)
for work related travel.”Jack Nilles [58]
“Telecommuting: moving the work to the workers instead of
moving workers to work; periodic work out of a central
office, one or more days per week either at home or in a
telework center.” Jack Nilles [58]
Remote or “telework” was most likely invented in 1857 by J.
Edgar Thompson of Penn Railroad, when he used private
telegraph lines to manage remote divisions [17, 41]. Jack
Nilles [58] coined the term “telecommuting” in the early
1970s. Since the Mid 1950’s US manufacturing employment
has steadily declined [58]. As of 1990 less than 1 in 3.7
workers held jobs in manufacturing or repair trades and less
than 1 in 54 Americans worked on farms. At the same time
sixty to eighty percent (60-80%) of the workforce was
comprised of information or knowledge workers, whose work
involves the creation, collation, manipulation, transformation,
and/or dissemination of information or from their operation of
IT [53, 58.] Nilles [58] estimates that seventy percent (70% or
~50 million in 1994) of the U.S. information workforce could
work remotely at least part of the time, however he points out
that today only 3.5% of the total workforce works outside the
traditional office.
Panko [67] suggests that stand-alone computer support
dominated in the 1980's due to technology limits and lack of
critical mass of technology users, not due to a lack of need or
interest in interacting. Studies [29, 84] have shown that
computers have penetrated over eighty percent (80%) of
desktops. In 1993 most telecommuters were home-based only
part of the time and estimates of the number ranged from 3
million to 20 million, with about 600,000 in Southern
California alone. [58] It has been estimated that over sixty (60)
million Americans will work at home by the year 2000 [63].
(See Table 2.36.) Link Resources, a New York City-based
research company, estimates that the sixty (60) million mark
will be achieved by the end of 1998, which would be an
increase of thirty-six percent (35%) over 1994 figures [6.]
Table 2.36 estimates of Telecommuters [63]
Millions Work Conditions
199? 4.2 Telework full time
1995 39.0 Work part-time at
2000 60.0 Will work at home
Unofficial telework, that is uncompensated overtime work
done at home, may be widespread, as evidenced by a survey by
Modern Office Technology magazine which found that ninety-
five percent of readers that responded reported that they
sometimes work overtime at home and thirty-nine percent do
so every week [41]. Finally David Woolley's web roster of
synchronous and asynchronous communication and
collaboration systems [98]available for use over the Internet
lists 148 products as of Oct 20, 1999
This paper illustrates that several decades of studies reveal
meetings are indeed very costly in both terms money and time.
Studies also reveal that in general meetings are unproductive
and wasteful. Studies find that meetings suffer from a myriad
of problems, making managers and workers alike dissatisfied
with the process and the outcomes in many cases. These same
studies reveal that meetings are essential to accomplish tasks
that individuals cannot complete by themselves. Finally the
review suggests that both telework and distributed
collaboration support are increasing in frequency and
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... It is one of the most common practices in which organizations mobilize their individual members to work together, share ideas, brainstorm solutions, and solve problems. While people allocate significant amount of their work time in attending meetings, and organizations devote notable large amounts of resources to facilitate them [45], people still tend to feel disconnected and perceive them as unproductive [63]. Reports suggest that one in every three employees, across cities and industry sectors, considers meetings ineffective and unproductive [65]. ...
... In the fields of Management and Organizational Science, meetings' productivity has been assessed by probing its agenda, structure, and purpose [17,42,69]. Inclusiveness [8,9], dominance [63], peripheral activities [55], and psychological safety [10,26] are aspects that have also been found to influence meetings' experience and productivity. The physical comfort of the workplace environment is an additional one that makes up the list [3]. ...
... Furthermore, a productive meeting might also depend on the psychological safety experienced by participants (i.e., whether they felt listened to). As we previously illustrated ( §3), psychological factors such as inclusiveness [8,9], dominance [63], and comfort in sharing and contributing [10,26] are linked with people's overall experience of a meeting. To understand whether these factors also impact meetings' productivity, we formulated our second hypothesis as: ...
Full-text available
Indoor environmental quality has been found to impact employees' productivity in the long run, yet it is unclear its meeting-level impact in the short term. We studied the relationship between sensorial pleasantness of a meeting's room and the meeting's productivity. By administering a 28-item questionnaire to 363 online participants, we indeed found that three factors captured 62% of people's experience of meetings: (a) productivity; (b) psychological safety; and (c) room pleasantness. To measure room pleasantness, we developed and deployed ComFeel, an indoor environmental sensing infrastructure, which captures light, temperature, and gas resistance readings through miniaturized and unobtrusive devices we built and named 'Geckos'. Across 29 real-world meetings, using ComFeel, we collected 1373 minutes of readings. For each of these meetings, we also collected whether each participant felt the meeting to have been productive, the setting to be psychologically safe, and the meeting room to be pleasant. As one expects, we found that, on average, the probability of a meeting being productive increased by 35% for each standard deviation increase in the psychological safety participants experienced. Importantly, that probability increased by as much as 25% for each increase in room pleasantness, confirming the significant short-term impact of the indoor environment on meetings' productivity.
... Workplace meetings are an integral part of employees' everyday workplace experience and an important tool in organisational life (Allen, Lehmann-Willenbrock and Rogelberg, 2015). Much of the workday, especially for managers, is taken up by meetings, and this trend is increasing (Rogelberg et al., 2010;Romano and Nunamaker, 2001). People meet because they need to work together. ...
... Although necessary, meetings are often unproductive, in which case they waste valuable resources, whether financial (Monge, McSween and Wyer, 1989;Romano and Nunamaker, 2001) or emotional (López-Fresno and Portocarrero, 2009;López-Fresno and Grandes-Carci, 2010;Rogelberg et al, 2010). In this case, meetings can harm organisational performance, culture, innovativeness and competitiveness (Allen et al., 2012). ...
... While some of these communications happen in planned meetings, others happen impromptu. Although there is a high variation in the findings of prior studies on the amount of scheduled meetings [8] and unscheduled f2f communication [9,10], they report that at least 25% of work time is spent for scheduled meetings and another 25% for unscheduled communication during normal times. After transitioning to WFH, we can assume for regular planned meetings would continue in a virtual setting. ...
... Besides, interruptions by chat messages has been shown to be much less disruptive than f2f because the recipient has more control over the situation, the norms are different -social costs associated with not responding in f2f is much higher, and the recipient can peek a message to get a sense of its urgency to decide when to respond -such plausible deniability is not possible in f2f or calls [11]. Also, meetings being too lengthy is one of the top reported meeting problems [8]; and, attending virtual meetings for a long period is worse than that of physical meetings -aka Zoom fatigue [22,23]. ...
Full-text available
During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people had to work from home. We examine the ways in which COVID-19 affect organizational communication by analyzing five months of calendar and messaging metadata from a technology company. We found that: (i) cross-level communication increased more than that of same-level, (ii) while within-team messaging increased considerably, meetings stayed the same, (iii) off-hours messaging became much more frequent, and that this effect was stronger for women; (iv) employees respond to non-managers faster than managers; finally, (v) the number of short meetings increased while long meetings decreased. These findings contribute to theories on organizational communication, remote work, management, and flexibility stigma. Besides, this study exemplifies a strategy to measure organizational health using an objective (not self-report based) method. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study using workplace communication metadata to examine the heterogeneous effects of mandatory remote work.
... While some of these communications happen in planned meetings, others happen impromptu. Although there is a high variation in the findings of prior studies on the amount of scheduled meetings [8] and unscheduled f2f communication [9,10], they report that at least 25% of work time is spent for scheduled meetings and another 25% for unscheduled communication during normal times. After transitioning to WFH, we can assume for regular planned meetings would continue in a virtual setting. ...
... Besides, interruptions by chat messages has been shown to be much less disruptive than f2f because the recipient has more control over the situation, the norms are different -social costs associated with not responding in f2f is much higher, and the recipient can peek a message to get a sense of its urgency to decide when to respond -such plausible deniability is not possible in f2f or calls [11]. Also, meetings being too lengthy is one of the top reported meeting problems [8]; and, attending virtual meetings for a long period is worse than that of physical meetings -aka Zoom fatigue [22,23]. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people had to work from home. We examine the ways in which COVID-19 affect organizational communication by analyzing five months of calendar and messag-ing metadata from a technology company. We found that: (i) cross-level communication increased more than that of same-level, (ii) while within-team messaging increased considerably, meetings stayed the same, (iii) off-hours messaging became much more frequent, and that this effect was stronger for women; (iv) employees respond to non-managers faster than managers; finally, (v) the number of short meetings increased while long meetings decreased. These findings contribute to theories on organizational communication, remote work, management, and flexibility stigma. Besides, this study exemplifies a strategy to measure organizational health using an objective (not self-report based) method. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study using workplace communication metadata to examine the heterogeneous effects of mandatory remote work.
... As with many other professions, software development is a meeting-intensive profession [1], [2]. Regardless of title, job description, or level of experience, software engineers find themselves in some set of meetings on a typical day [1], sometimes so much so that some organizations have responded by establishing meetingfree days to create dedicated time for their employees to get their work done without being pulled into meeting after meeting [3], [4]. ...
Conference Paper
Meetings have always been a significant part of working life and software development is no exception, with meetings of all kinds taking place daily. One type of meeting that is critical to software development that has not been widely studied to date is the recurring software maintenance meeting: a regularly scheduled meeting during which the primary product leads consider emerging issues and new directions for an already deployed and functioning software system. In this paper, we describe preliminary results of our ongoing analysis of ten consecutive recurring maintenance meetings of the architecture committee of a major healthcare software company. The results provide a foundation for further analysis in terms of first building a categorization of the kinds of discussions that take place. We present the setting, our approach to analysis, and preliminary observations. A primary outcome is that the kinds of discussions are much more varied than one might have initially expected.
... Romano and Nunamaker [45] previously commented: "It is important to understand how we meet and collaborate today before we can begin to design effective new methods for the future." We concur with this view and therefore began by investigating actual cooperative work tasks within remote work settings to get a better understanding of existing conduct. ...
... The following publications are included in parts or in an extended version in this thesis: Shang, Guokan, Wensi Ding, Zekun Zhang, Antoine Tixier, Polykarpos Meladianos, Michalis Vazirgiannis, and Jean-Pierre Lorré (July 2018 (Romano and Nunamaker, 2001)the study of meeting expenses, productivity, processes, and outcomes-has revealed that while meetings are an essential and inevitable part of one's working life on the one hand, they are sometimes considered to be costly, unproductive, and dissatisfying on the other. Living in the booming era of Artificial Intelligence (AI), our lives are constantly being affected by the increasing deployment of AIbased systems in a wide variety of contexts (Lu, 2019), from conversational agents to autonomous driving, to the healthcare industry. ...
With the impressive progress that has been made in transcribing spoken language, it is becoming increasingly possible to exploit transcribed data for tasks that require comprehension of what is said in a conversation. The work in this dissertation, carried out in the context of a project devoted to the development of a meeting assistant, contributes to ongoing efforts to teach machines to understand multi-party meeting speech. We have focused on the challenge of automatically generating abstractive meeting summaries.We first present our results on Abstractive Meeting Summarization (AMS), which aims to take a meeting transcription as input and produce an abstractive summary as output. We introduce a fully unsupervised framework for this task based on multi-sentence compression and budgeted submodular maximization. We also leverage recent advances in word embeddings and graph degeneracy applied to NLP, to take exterior semantic knowledge into account and to design custom diversity and informativeness measures.Next, we discuss our work on Dialogue Act Classification (DAC), whose goal is to assign each utterance in a discourse a label that represents its communicative intention. DAC yields annotations that are useful for a wide variety of tasks, including AMS. We propose a modified neural Conditional Random Field (CRF) layer that takes into account not only the sequence of utterances in a discourse, but also speaker information and in particular, whether there has been a change of speaker from one utterance to the next.The third part of the dissertation focuses on Abstractive Community Detection (ACD), a sub-task of AMS, in which utterances in a conversation are grouped according to whether they can be jointly summarized by a common abstractive sentence. We provide a novel approach to ACD in which we first introduce a neural contextual utterance encoder featuring three types of self-attention mechanisms and then train it using the siamese and triplet energy-based meta-architectures. We further propose a general sampling scheme that enables the triplet architecture to capture subtle patterns (e.g., overlapping and nested clusters).
Full-text available
Job satisfaction, leadership, meeting effectiveness, and organizational commitment have become the subjects of numerous research papers, due mainly to their vital roles in the development of organizations. We based our research on previous studies related to leadership, meeting effectiveness, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment and an empirical study. The authors emphasize the influence of leadership on meeting effectiveness and the impact of the mediating role of job satisfaction on the relationship between meeting effectiveness and organizational commitment, increasing more employees’ commitment to their organizations. Our research aims to show whether leadership has a positive effect on meeting effectiveness, how meeting effectiveness affects organizational commitment, and to what extent job satisfaction impacts this relationship. We used data collected in our analysis and created a questionnaire that was distributed to 249 respondents working at 34 Vietnamese organizations from a variety of sectors such as tax, banking, health service, airlines, education, and business. Using non-probability sampling with the calculation of exploratory factor analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, and structural equation modeling, the authors found that leadership significantly affects meeting effectiveness, and meeting effectiveness positively influences organizational commitment with the mediation of job satisfaction.
Experimental research by social and cognitive psychologists has established that cooperative groups solve a wide range of problems better than individuals. Cooperative problem solving groups of scientific researchers, auditors, financial analysts, air crash investigators, and forensic art experts are increasingly important in our complex and interdependent society. This comprehensive textbook--the first of its kind in decades--presents important theories and experimental research about group problem solving. The book focuses on tasks that have demonstrably correct solutions within mathematical, logical, scientific, or verbal systems, including algebra problems, analogies, vocabulary, and logical reasoning problems.The book explores basic concepts in group problem solving, social combination models, group memory, group ability and world knowledge tasks, rule induction problems, letters-to-numbers problems, evidence for positive group-to-individual transfer, and social choice theory. The conclusion proposes ten generalizations that are supported by the theory and research on group problem solving.Group Problem Solvingis an essential resource for decision-making research in social and cognitive psychology, but also extremely relevant to multidisciplinary and multicultural problem-solving teams in organizational behavior, business administration, management, and behavioral economics.
This paper deals with a number of issues pertinent to the design of group decision support systems. It notes that the need for such systems, whether designed by users or vendors, is a consequence of the clash of two important forces: (1) the environmentally-imposed demand for more information sharing In organizations, and (2) the resistance to allocating more managerial and professional time to attending meetings. The paper focuses on three major issues in the design of these systems: 1) system capabilities, 2) system delivery modes, and 3) system design strategies, and discusses the relationship of these issues to system use and survival. The relevance of numeric information, textual information, and relational information in a decision-group context are examined, and various system capabilities for displaying and using such information are noted.
I. Meetings: The Issues and the Approach.- 1. Introduction.- 2. Occasions and Gatherings.- 3. Meetings as Tools/Meetings as Topics.- II. The Meeting: Gatherings in an American Organization.- 4. An Organized Anarchy.- 5. Constructing a Meeting.- 6. Meetings, Time, and Attention.- 7. History, Boundaries, and Ideological Conflict: The Council Meeting and the Training Meeting.- 8. Decisions and Power: The Committee Meeting and the Board Meeting.- 9. Expressions and Emotions: The Staff Meeting.- III. Meetings: Comparisons and Conclusions.- 10. Meetings, Culture, and Society.- 11. The Meeting: Foreground/Background.- Author Index.